Few projects have done much to explore cryptographic micropayments such as the old blog Yalls created by Lightning Labs developer Alex Bosworth.
From April to early November, Bosworth said that blog participants have processed about 20,000 invoices with the Lightning network, a bitcoin scaling solution that makes micropayments feasible by keeping them out of the blockchain, avoiding network transaction costs.
It costs about a penny to read an article by Yalls, half a cent to leave a comment on a post and 10 cents to react to a post with an emoji. Publishing an article is free.
"A nice thing about micropayments is that it returns anonymity to the web," Bosworth told CoinDesk. "I'm really a fan of the idea that your identity should not be tied to a username and password."
Explaining that readers can draw on Yall & # 39; s Lightning nodes and channels system without a traditional subscription, like most paid shops, he added:
"Maybe you do not have a wallet yet … So go to the Yalls app page, you can connect to it."
So far readers have opened more than 118 Lightning nodes through this platform, many of which are now facilitating payment channels, where small amounts are sent back and forth between users before final settlement on the blockchain.
This allowed contributors to publish 170 new articles from July to early November 2018, while readers paid 675 emoji reactions and 194 comments. In addition, writers have claimed their crypto-prizes of minimum size at least 432 times during the same period, collecting rates from readers for their articles.
"They are few, so every single bill is small," said Bosworth.
As such, some node operators have been operating channels for several months, and according to Bosworth, earning about $ 5 a month on routing charges. Although this hardly represents a business model for daily publishing, it highlights how committed readers can contribute to the broader infrastructure of a platform.
Speaking of how the media often find participatory ecosystems that are difficult to moderate, because trolls and marketing experts can pass the comments sections at no cost, he added:
"Micropayments help us, because you do not have robots or spam".
Not yet a business model
Since Bosworth has created this blog as a hobby, with a corresponding Lightning node onboarding process, it does not regularly register readers or payments and provides April-November data to CoinDesk on demand. He never sold the site or requested contributions. Still, it's clear that bitcoin fans are compelling.
"At the beginning of the site there were problems keeping the node online.If the node is dead, it is not possible to read articles or do anything on the site.I had to babysit the node," said Bosworth. "Over time, that feedback has returned to LND [Lightning Network Daemon] and now the knot is quite stable. "
On the other hand, Bosworth acknowledged that it will take years before this type of community funding works for professional media.
To start with, few people know how to manage a Lightning-friendly cryptographic portfolio or crypt. Crypto-general literacy is scarcely available among the mainstream public.
Furthermore, the synchronization of portfolios and nodes with the site itself takes time to develop internally.
According to Bosworth, readers were "pretty lenient" when payments of less than one cent had processing problems. But "if you start charging people like $ 20 a month or something, you have to provide a higher quality of service, that there are never any bugs," he said, adding that the reliable infrastructure for payments with a click is the only way readers use cryptographic micropayments for moving content.
"If the infrastructure was there, so that there were less mental costs for the user to make that payment," he said, "I think it could take off."
Lightning image through Shutterstock